A bilateral scientific collaborative initiative between the Republic of Kazakhstan Ministry of Agriculture and the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh (RBGE) was organised by Cairns ICL and GIS-Terra of Kazakhstan. The object of the initiative was to extend the reach of the RBGE's international botanical exploration programme across Central Asia. This exercise had been precluded during Soviet times, thereby creating a critical gap in RGBE's plant knowledge of that region lying between China and the Caucasus. An interesting finding was that while Britain has only 1,000 indigenous plant species, Kasakhstan has 9,000.
An exploratory expedition was led by Prof. Natalya Ogar, Chief Government Botanical Advisor (Kazakhstan) of GIS-Terra on 19th-26th May 2008. The UK party comprised Dr. David Rae and Martin Gardner of RBGE and WJ Cairns, Ann Wilkie, Natalia Zakhorova, Marianne Donaghue of Cairns ICL.
The expedition visited three of Kazakhstan's most notable National Parks of significantly different terrain and ecosystem characteristics, namely Charyn, Kolsai Lakes and Altyn-Emel. The team collected 98 representative plant specimens which are now registered in the RBGE Herbarium.
Importantly, the research carried out has established a collaborative relationship between Scientists in Edinburgh and Kazakhstan paving the way for further research and exchange.
Copyright Cairns ICL 2013